SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Tanzanian conjoined twins die at age 21

Few people share as much in life as...

Posted: Jun 4, 2018 8:28 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2018 8:28 PM

Few people share as much in life as conjoined twins. For Maria and Consolata Mwakikuti, conjoined twins and orphans from Tanzania, this was certainly the case.

But at 2:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, Maria passed away. Fifteen minutes later, so, too, did Consolata.

The twins were conjoined at their abdomen and shared organs such as the stomach and part of the aorta, a crucial artery that runs from the heart down to the abdomen. They had separate heads and hearts.

Early investigations soon after their birth confirmed the two sisters could not be separated, said Dr. Faith Kundy, a physician at Iringa Regional Hospital, where the women died.

In December, Maria was diagnosed with a respiratory problem resulting from an inoperable chest deformity, the ultimate cause of her death, Kundy told CNN.

"They underwent tests and it was very unfortunate that nothing could be done," said Kundy, who was with the twins during their last few days. "It was very sad for me. Apart from being patients they were friends, they were funny people. I feel so sad because they had a hope of living."

But Kundy added it was a major achievement that the twins reached age 21.

Maria and Consolata were taken care of by a congregation of nuns, the Consolata Sisters, and were born at the Consolata Regional Hospital, where their parents left them after birth, according to Sister Jane Nugi.

"They were very lovely, very enthusiastic," Nugi said. "Their plan was to work and to help other people less fortunate in the community. They were suffering of course but they were able to live and want to live. In spite of the bonding condition, they had passion for life."

The women had been studying education at Ruaha Catholic University, added Kundy.

Having become well-known in the East African country, and an inspiration to those who knew them, the twins' deaths cast a somber spell on the country on Sunday.

"I'm saddened by the death of Maria and Consolata. When I visited them at the hospital, they prayed for the nation. Their dream was to serve our nation. Condolences to their family ... and all those affected by their deaths. May they rest in peace," tweeted Tanzanian president John Magufuli in Swahili.

Living with a disability is notoriously difficult in Tanzania. People with disabilities make up some of the poorest and most marginalized segments of Tanzanian society, according to Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania, an organization that provides rehabilitation and disability services across the country.

More than half of children with disabilities don't attend school. Illiteracy among people with disabilities is 46% compared to 25% for people without a disability.

Maria and Consolata not only went to school, they vowed to become teachers.

"Rest in peace Maria and Consolata -- you lived your life right when you were here on earth," tweeted Tanzania's Deputy Minister for Health Faustine Ndugulile.

Conjoined twins are extremely rare, with an incidence of 1 in 50,000 births, according to a 2017 paper in the journal of Clinical Anatomy. However, because around 60% of those cases are stillborn, the actual incidence rate is closer to 1 in 200,000 births, according to the study. Almost 70% of these twins are female.

The most famous case of conjoined twins is that of Chang and Eng Bunker of Siam, now Thailand. The brothers, who lived for 63 years, and ended up having a total of 22 children between them, popularized the term "Siamese twins," according to the study.

Scientists believe that conjoined twins result from a single fertilized egg that fails to separate completely. However, the scientific community remains divided on why this happens.

Separating twins is a complicated and dangerous procedure, and not all twins -- because of shared organs or other complications -- can be separated.

Despite remaining conjoined, Maria and Consolata lived the life they could.

"For us it was a good challenge to have disabled people who had a passion to live and for people in Tanzania that passion is what remains," Nugi told CNN.

Lafayette
Mostly Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 29°
Kokomo
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 25°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 27°
Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 29°
Danville
Partly Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 28°
Frankfort
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 23°
Frankfort
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 23°
Monticello
Mostly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 29°
Monticello
Mostly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 29°
Logansport
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 30°
Heaviest precipitation Monday-Monday night....
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 608519

Reported Deaths: 9693
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion840461335
Lake45349684
Allen32803548
Hamilton29394315
St. Joseph27380381
Elkhart24404345
Vanderburgh19411249
Tippecanoe17970138
Johnson15069295
Porter14783169
Hendricks14401248
Madison10965221
Vigo10726181
Clark10677144
Monroe9383110
Delaware9116134
LaPorte9065163
Howard8236144
Kosciusko806983
Warrick672999
Hancock6697104
Bartholomew6484100
Floyd6428110
Wayne6136162
Grant5991115
Dubois555579
Boone551168
Morgan541295
Henry507864
Marshall503984
Cass483263
Dearborn479845
Noble473059
Jackson425047
Shelby417581
Lawrence391079
Clinton373043
Gibson370359
Harrison348144
DeKalb347164
Montgomery345754
Knox335639
Miami321444
Steuben313745
Whitley307326
Wabash303251
Adams300936
Ripley298445
Putnam296850
Huntington291659
Jasper289034
White273243
Daviess270474
Jefferson263338
Decatur247683
Fayette247148
Greene239862
Posey239328
Wells236051
LaGrange228862
Scott225339
Clay222532
Randolph213548
Jennings198936
Sullivan192333
Spencer191321
Washington186423
Fountain184027
Starke175443
Jay167623
Owen165737
Fulton164030
Orange159534
Carroll158015
Rush155118
Perry154229
Vermillion149134
Franklin148333
Tipton132332
Parke13078
Pike116926
Blackford111022
Pulaski97037
Newton90921
Brown88035
Benton86610
Crawford7999
Martin73713
Warren6817
Switzerland6615
Union6287
Ohio4907
Unassigned0376

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events